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Small U.S. Firms Play Big Role in $216.8 Million Sale to Mexico's Pemex


Media Contact Name/Phone: 

Marianna Ohe 202-565-3200

In Spanish

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Forty-three small businesses -- from Pennsylvania to Texas and from Florida to Minnesota - are participating in a $216.8 million export sale to enable Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex) to upgrade its Minatitlan refinery, backed by a $200 million loan guarantee from Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im Bank).

They're proof that small business exporters reap big benefits from Ex-Im Bank-supported sales for major projects, even when the foreign buyers are as large as Pemex, the world's third largest petroleum producer.

We're a small company and we couldn't finance this export sale by ourselves, said Felipe Suarez, president of Merichem Chemicals & Refinery Services LLC, Houston, Tex., which is supplying a $4 million skid-mounted modular caustic treatment processing unit for the Minatitlan project. If it hadn't been for the Ex-Im Bank-guaranteed loan, a much larger global competitor, able to offer the buyer competitive financing, likely would have won the order.

Suarez said Merichem plans to add 20 employees to its 200-person workforce to handle the new business, and we expect this transaction to lead to follow-on business as well.

Supporting U.S. jobs through exports is Ex-Im Bank's mission, but much more of our support goes to small businesses than is generally realized, said Ex-Im Bank Chairman and President James H. Lambright. More than 80 percent of our financing transactions are made on behalf of small businesses. In addition, we support many small firms that are sub-suppliers in large export sales, and the Minatitlan project is a perfect example of this.

FS-Elliott Co., LLC of Export, Penn., is providing $1.5 million of custom-built air compressors for the Minatitlan project, and adding staff in the process to handle this and other export orders. The company exports 80 percent of what it builds to markets in Asia, Latin America and the Middle East. Currently it has 170 employees in Pennsylvania, and about 15-20 sales and engineering staff working in the field both domestically (in New Jersey, North Carolina, Texas and California) and globally.

We're doing the opposite of sending jobs abroad, says FS-Elliott Chief Executive Officer Ronald L. Stewart. We're investing in western Pennsylvania. Oil companies are doing major capital investment, and our backlogs are growing dramatically. We've added about 20 people over the past six months to meet demand, and we'll need to add another ten to work on this project.

Ex-Im Bank financing of projects such as Minatitlan creates strong incentive for the purchaser to use U.S. companies, Stewart said.

Ex-Im Bank's long-term loan guarantee supports Pemex's purchase of U.S. goods and services to build nine new process units at its General Lazaro Cardenas refinery (Minatitlan), Mexico's oldest refinery near the city of Minatitlan in Veracruz state. The upgrade will enable Minatitlan to refine additional heavy high sulfur oil and increase the production of gasoline and middle distillates with reduced levels of sulfur. Calyon S.A., New York, N.Y., is the guaranteed lender on the transaction. Suppliers such as Merichem and FS-Elliott work through several large engineering, procurement and construction contractors on the Minatitlan project.

While not yet finalized, the prospective list of U.S. small business exporters currently includes companies located in the following cities:

Florida: Clearwater
Georgia: Dallas, Lawrenceville
Illinois: Chicago, St. Charles
Michigan: Saginaw, Shelby Township
Minnesota: Minneapolis
New Hampshire: Nashua, Salem
New York: Batavia
Ohio: Dayton
Oklahoma: Tulsa
Pennsylvania: Ivyland, Mohnton
Texas: Austin, Houston, Lewisville, Sugar Land
Vermont: Williston
Virginia: Sterling

Ex-Im Bank this year marks its 72nd year of helping finance the sale of U.S. exports, primarily to emerging markets throughout the world. In fiscal year 2005 Ex-Im Bank authorized nearly $14 billion in transactions supporting almost $17.9 billion in U.S. exports. This represented 3,128 transactions, of which 2,617, or over 80%, directly benefited small businesses. Visit Ex-Im Bank's web site at www.exim.gov.